Friday, July 27, 2012

Helping autistic Stafford teen changed Germanna nursing student's life

The Free Lance-Star

Getting hired as a personal-care attendant for a teen with autism changed Ann Marie Brown’s career path.

She was a sophomore majoring in history at the University of Mary Washington last year when she applied for a job helping 18-year-old Russell Cole practice such life skills as loading the dishwasher at his Stafford County home.

Two months after working with him, I had a revelation,” said Brown. “I’ve always been really interested in psychology, so finding a very practical way of using it was very exciting.”

Last fall she switched from UMW to Germanna Community College, where she’s enrolled in the nursing program. She plans to become a psychiatric nurse.

“Just observing behavior and trying to modify it is exciting to me,” Brown said. “There are a lot of people who need these services.”

She’s not alone in recognizing the demand. The disAbility Resource Center, 409 Progress St. in Fredericksburg, has been holding workshops for people who want to learn more about becoming consumer-directed, or personal-care, assistants.

The next one will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Smoot Library, 8562 Dahlgren Road in King George County. Registration is required, and can be made by contacting Kim Lett at 540/373-2559 or

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